As companies increasingly switch to telecommuting, workers are adapting in different ways. One of the most notable schisms in the way employees handle this change is generational: Millennials and Generation Z are more comfortable with text and video chat than their Generation X and baby boomer peers.
While this generational gap in communication may be obvious to some, the facts are borne out in the data. Over 93% of millennials own smartphones, bolstering their preference for text-based and video chatting communications. At the same time, your Gen X and baby boomer customers may prefer more traditional methods, such as phone calls and face-to-face communication. That’s also a stark difference from the upcoming Generation Z, 65% of whom actually prefer communicating online over in-person.
With all these age-based differences in mind, how can companies best offer communications strategies that work with all of their customers? Let’s take a look at how technology is affecting the generation gap, and how that might affect your business.
The AI Difference.
Chatbots are an increasingly popular addition to websites across industries. The ability to provide a 24/7 customer service AI with little startup cost is increasingly appealing, particularly among younger customers who are more pressed for time.
These kinds of tech innovations are typically thought of as most appealing to millennials. After all, the generation that texts the most would certainly prefer typing their customer support query, right?
When we look at the data, we find something surprising – baby boomers are the ones more likely to expect added value from chatbots compared to their younger counterparts. Perhaps the novelty of chatbots makes older users – those less accustomed to these types of innovations – expect greater things, while tech-savvy millennials and Generation Z temper their expectations.
Whatever the case, the takeaway is clear – predicting how your customers engage with your CS technology might not always lead to the conclusions you expect. With that in mind, what’s the right approach for a business that wants to increase sales by targeting their business across generations?
A Holistic Approach.
While the vast majority of boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z have access to the internet, age increasingly defines just how we get online. 20% of millennials, for example, access the internet exclusively through their smartphones, compared to the 17% of Gen Xers who simply prefer to use their phones for browsing.
Having a notable segment of your customer base solely shopping online is evidence enough that a mobile responsive site is key. At the same time, the telephone remains the most commonly used avenue of customer service interactions across age groups, even though baby boomers are the only demographic to prefer starting with a call.
These surveys and data points make it clear: An omni-channel approach to customer interaction is key. While the right customer data can point you to where your most fruitful efforts may lie, a company lacking in one particular channel is missing out on potential sales, particularly as their business grows.
Offering email, chat, and telephone support can seem like a daunting task. Yet it’s also the key to success – 93% of customers report being more likely to return to a business offering great customer service. That number crosses age, gender, and location; it’s a simple necessity for standing out in an increasingly competitive market space.
The Customer Experience Advantage.
There’s one other method to boost sales and increase customer engagement across demographics. No matter the channel, customers more and more are looking for personalization in their interactions with businesses.
The desire to feel unique is often counted as a millennial trait, yet as a recent HP report declared, all generations desire personalization. That includes 34% of Generation Xers and a solid 27% of baby boomers, with even higher percentages for millennials and Gen Z.
So what does this personalization look like in practice? While something as simple as addressing the customer by name in emails and chat interactions can help, the increasing value of customer data better informs personalization, especially as we look ahead to the 2020s. Offering discounts based on previous purchases or tailoring a marketing strategy around a certain demographic’s buying habits gives marketing departments much more potential upside than ever before.
Customer personalization cuts across the technology gap for one simple reason: A salesperson would never think to start pitching a prospect without getting his or her name first. For older customers shopping online, personalization brings their interaction closer to what they’re most comfortable with.
For millennials and Generation Z, a unique buying experience stands out compared to the depersonalized shopping experiences they’ve had online previously. It’s a simple way to ensure every customer is getting their due, no matter the demographic. If your customer personalization strategy cuts across generations, there’s no telling the level of trust you can build with your most valuable brand loyalists.
Eric Schurke is VP of Operations at VoiceNation. Eric has been a part of VoiceNation for nearly a decade helping establish the company as a telecom trailblazer by developing innovative solutions for businesses and global challenges.